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Turkey Food Safety

Proper and safe food handling practices for turkey are essential, because your health and the health of others are involved. You'll find that handling turkey safely is not difficult. We've included tips on how to maintain optimum product conditions.

Maintaining the Right Temperature:
Careful management of temperatures is an important way to control bacteria and prevent foodborne illness. You should always use a meat thermometer to check temperatures.
  • Turkey must be kept frozen (0°C or lower) or refrigerated (35° to 40°F) until used. Keep raw as well as cooked turkey products out of the 40° to 140°F bacterial growth danger zone.
  • Never let raw or cooked turkey stand at room temperature or in a warm oven at a temperature lower than 200°F.
  • The turkey is done when the internal temperature registered on a meat thermometer, reaches 180°F when inserted in the thigh not touching any bone, before removing from the oven. The temperature of the breast should reach 170°F. The pop-up thermometer device also indicates the turkey has reached the final temperature for safety and doneness.
  • A turkey is purchased fully cooked and served hot, such as boneless roasts and rolls, should be reheated to an internal temperature of 140°F.
Sanitation:
Sanitary procedures for handling turkey are the same as for those for handling other meats.
  • Keep hands, face, hair, and personal clothing clean. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with hot soapy water, then rinse.
  • All equipment and materials used in the thawing, storage, preparation, and serving of turkey must be clean and sanitized to prevent cross-contamination between raw and cooked food.
  • Clean cutting surfaces, knives, pan, cutting equipment, and thermometers frequently and sanitize after each use of each type of food.
  • Store uncooked turkey products in their original wrappers and carton. Check the wrap for tears or perforations.
Foodborne illness can strike anyone. Some people are at a higher risk for developing foodborne illness, including pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. For these people the following four simple steps are critically important. These are guidelines established by the USDA in their Fight BAC® program.

Four Simple Steps to Food Safety:
CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate
COOK: Cook to proper temperatures
CHILL: Refrigerate promptly


Along with the Four Simple Steps to Food Safety, be sure and follow the safe cooking temperature guide. Cooking food to the proper temperature kills harmful bacteria. So Fight BAC® by using a food thermometer and thoroughly cooking your food according to the following chart.

  • Safe Cooking Temperatures

  • For additional turkey food safety information:

  • National Turkey Federation
  • Cook It Quick
  • Fight Bac! - Keep Food Safe From Bacteria
  • USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline
  • USDA